A breeze with Chinese money
news.domain.com.au on 19 January,2013 Susan WellingsClick here to read the original article
Chinese investors are involved in at least eight large projects in the city and suburbs, and indications are we haven't seen anything yet.
"We're definitely seeing more and more all the time,'' says the chief executive of Urban Taskforce Australia, Chris Johnson. ''There are a lot of people in China who are interested in investing in Australia, and a particular favoured model is to invest in apartments, which they are used to back home."
Among the new high-profile developments with Chinese interests are the 270-unit The Quay in Haymarket, the 95-unit Jasmine on the Park at Botany, the 15-storey The Castlereagh overlooking Hyde Park, the 12-storey Futra in Mascot, the boutique 11-apartment Breeze in Drummoyne, the 20-townhouse Sovereign at Sylvania and the Gateway at Kingsgrove.
Johnson says there are several reasons for the Chinese investment in Sydney. The Chinese government is slowing construction in that country, Australia is one of only seven countries to hold a AAA rating by credit agency Standard & Poor's and the Sydney residential market is seen as stable with some growth in the offing.
Easing the visa requirements for foreign investors has helped, and several Australian companies are happy to become involved in joint ventures.
"We will see this more over the next three to five years,'' says an Australian architect with PSEC project services, Eric Chan, who often works with Chinese developers. ''The newcomers are developers in China looking to expand their business, enterprise owners in China moving into development in Australia, or investment groups that get together to work on projects."
But while the projects are Chinese-developed, Chan says, they use Australian builders, usually Australian architects - who have a great reputation after their work on the Beijing Olympics - and often have Australian partners and Australian consultants. Australian banks help them prepare packages, and they may have companies registered in Australia.
The investors are sound financially, Johnson says - either high-net-worth individuals or companies with huge assets. "After all, China is currently helping to prop up the world," he says.
Good locations and great quality are usually priorities to build a reputation here. ''Quality is very important,'' says the managing director of Lenland, Benny Deng, who is working on The Castlereagh. ''That's why most of our buyers are local customers.''
Architect Tony Owen, who designed Breeze for Chinese developer QY Group, as well as Sovereign and The Castlereagh, says that's certainly been his experience.
"They want a good brand name, so they're ready to really press for the kind of quality local developers might be more hesitant about, worried they might not get their money back,'' Owen says. ''With Breeze, for instance, they're designed with wide frontages right on the harbour, beautiful kitchens and spectacular open bathrooms."
Agent Craig Moore agrees. "Breeze has marble floors, timber feature walls, timber louvres and lots of beautiful stone," he says.
Buyers can always ask for any developer's capability documents, says Moore, which show previous work and experience. "Some of these Chinese companies have been developing hundreds, sometimes thousands, of apartments in China, so they're very specialised."
Breeze apartments range from 174-301 sq m internally, with external spaces from 20-95 sq m and panoramic views. Prices from $2,464,000 to $3,383,000, breezeliving.com.au, phone 0409 225 959.
City vibe seals it
When Jessica Kim and her husband, Soon Kweon Lee, were looking for an apartment to buy, their focus was on a city location and a quality build. Chinese developer Lenland's The Castlereagh, due for completion in 2015, satisfied both criteria.
"We were really impressed by the quality of what they're planning," says Kim, 37, a quantitative manager at a bank. "There are timber floors and the design is good, and it's all very well organised.
"We also liked the location. We've been living in the north-west suburbs but it's so far from everything, and this means we'll be very close to work and everything Sydney has to offer."
Kim and Lee, 38, a bridge design engineer, have bought a two-bedroom apartment on the 10th floor of The Castlereagh, with views of Hyde Park. Two-bedders in the tower start at $820,000.
Originally from South Korea, the couple say they're used to apartment living. "Originally we wanted a more famous and well-known developer so we could be sure they were good," Kim says.
"But we think this developer is really good. We looked at everything closely, and I have good instincts about it."